Matt Clarke to Brighton: Mark Catlin reveals machinations behind Portsmouth's biggest transfer deal in nine years

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Mark Catlin has lifted the lid on the machinations behind Pompey’s biggest transfer deal in nine years.

Last month’s departure of Matt Clarke to Brighton brought more than £4m into the Fratton Park coffers.

It represents the Blues largest sale since Prince Boateng departed for Genoa in August 2010 for £5m.

According to Catlin, Brighton were long the early pacesetters for Clarke, also remaining the central defender’s preferred outcome.

And Pompey's chief executive reveals how the big-money negotiations unfolded.

He said: ‘Although Matt never kicked up any sort of fuss – and I have to stress that – it was clear there was a desire for him to go to Brighton.

Matt Clarke listens as Mark Catlin addresses Pompey's triumphant dressing room following their Checkatrade Trophy victory. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke listens as Mark Catlin addresses Pompey's triumphant dressing room following their Checkatrade Trophy victory. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘This was not just because of the club, but for geographical reasons it’s a good fit, with him consistently saying how he loves it on the south coast.

‘From a club point of view, although we are all sad to see Matt leave, that is the cycle of football, players leave and then you refresh the squad on the back of that.

‘I was satisfied how it panned out. There was significant interest in Matt, but as the figures crept up there was only one deal in town and one deal Matt wanted.

‘During negotiations we made it clear we were actually happy for him to see out the final year and take our chances at a tribunal, but when figures get to where they did and we didn't believe the tribunal would get more, the decision goes away from you slightly.

Prince Boateng was sold to Genoa for 5m in August 2010 - with Matt Clarke's sale the biggest since. Picture: Steve Reid

Prince Boateng was sold to Genoa for 5m in August 2010 - with Matt Clarke's sale the biggest since. Picture: Steve Reid

‘You also have to think of the player, who is going into the last year of his contract.

‘With Matt this wouldn't have been the case, but there have been plenty of instances where had his move been turned down then the player disengages himself and it’s not good for anyone.’

Clarke’s conduct during the lengthy process particularly impressed Catlin, who has praised the 22-year-old.

He added: ‘There were times during negotiations when maybe it didn’t look like it was going to happen, but Matt never once picked up the phone or kicked up a fuss, while his agent never made any threat.

‘It sums up what a person Matt is, good luck to him.’